25 Jobs in Environmental Studies (With Salaries and FAQ)
Updated July 22, 2023
Working in the environmental studies field can be a rewarding and beneficial career experience. From studying weather patterns to teaching students about important environmental impacts, there are a lot of jobs you can pursue with an environmental studies degree.
In this article, we discuss what environmental studies is and share 25 jobs in environmental studies you can pursue, along with answers to frequently asked questions about this field.
What is environmental studies?
Environmental studies is an academic discipline studying the intersections of biology, ecology, geology and human life. Many individuals who pursue environmental studies become scientists and researchers. They may also pursue careers in politics and government, academia or nonprofits, as environmental studies also consider environmental issues from a social and cultural perspective. This multidisciplinary field prepares graduates to work in environmental science or help other groups further environmental causes.
25 types of jobs in environmental studies
Here are 25 jobs that you can pursue in environmental studies, including details about key duties and average salaries. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
National average salary: $35,321 per year
Primary duties: Veterinary technicians work with veterinarians and support them in their daily responsibilities. Throughout the day, veterinary technicians might care for the animals, administer medications and give pets a preliminary health screening. They also interact with pet owners, educating them on proper pet care and explaining treatments and procedures.
Read more: Learn About Being a Veterinary Technician
National average salary: $44,782 per year
Primary duties: A natural resource specialist uses their environmental knowledge to study endangered habitats and find solutions to their survival through natural resource regulation. This can allow natural resource specialists to help reduce environmental damage and help protect the plants or animals that might be in danger.
National average salary: $44,955 per year
Primary duties: An emergency medical technician works in emergency vehicles as a first responder to provide emergency medical care. They often respond to emergency events like accidents, natural disasters and fires.
National average salary: $56,255 per year
Primary duties: A wildlife biologist examines and tries to understand how different animals live in their natural habitats. They study how animals behave and interact with each other and what part they play in their ecosystem. They may use this research for conservation purposes or to inform their employer about best practices regarding the continued study of these animals.
National average salary: $56,724 per year
Primary duties: Meteorologists study and research different weather patterns to predict how the weather may behave in the future. Though some meteorologists work for radio stations and news broadcasting services, most meteorologists work for companies or private organizations to help them predict weather patterns for different company projects.
National average salary: $60,238 per year
Primary duties: Environmental scientists study and research the Earth and its ecosystems to identify and fix environmental risks, such as reducing air, water and ground pollution. Environmental scientists may find employment with the government, research groups and private organizations whose work requires a regular assessment of environmental impacts.
National average salary: $60,790 per year
Primary duties: A geologist studies the Earth's rocks and natural materials to understand how they work within their environment. They also research how humans and other animals impact geological areas and what humans can do to prevent environmental damage. Depending on their research and academic interests, geologists may specialize in specific areas like geological oceanography.
National average salary: $61,751 per year
Primary duties: Forensic scientists work with criminal investigations and law enforcement to collect and process physical evidence, which they then use to help identify potential criminal suspects. They utilize special lab equipment and expertise to generate scientific reports that often provide criminal investigations with important information.
National average salary: $65,570 per year
Primary duties: Ecologists study the relationships between humans, plants and animals and the ways each affects their shared environments. Ecologists often work in the field conducting experiments and analyzing ecosystems. An ecologist might also specialize in certain ecosystems, such as marine or freshwater life.
National average salary: $72,312 per year
Primary duties: An environmental consultant works with companies and other organizations to examine their environmental impact or ways they can help fix environmental issues such as water pollution or soil contamination. They might run diagnostic tests on different environments they're examining to find helpful solutions to environmental problems.
11. Policy analyst
National average salary: $72,608 per year
Primary duties: A policy analyst researches and studies different policies and laws to better understand how they function and how they might advocate for improvements. Environmentalists might use this position to understand environmental policies better and help create legislation to prevent environmental damage by companies and corporations and compensate individuals affected by such environmental damage.
National average salary: $73,916 per year
Primary duties: Biologists study the science of living things. They strive to research and better understand how plants and animals function and behave concerning their environment. Biologists can also specialize in certain fields, such as anatomy, biophysics and evolution.
National average salary: $76,053 per year
Primary duties: Geotechnical engineers work with civil engineers to investigate soil and human-induced structures and materials and how they interact with the surrounding environment. They might also assist organizations in creating human-induced structures to minimize environmental impact. Geotechnical engineers often work with construction companies, mining companies, city governments and military groups.
National average salary: $78,925 per year
Primary duties: Geospatial engineers use their environmental studies expertise along with imaging and positioning technology to create surveys and reports of geographical information. Their work often contributes to global positioning systems (GPS) and 3D environment maps to help consumers and construction companies.
National average salary: $79,611 per year
Primary duties: An environmental studies professor works at a college or university to teach students in environmental studies topics. They might also publish educational materials based on their own expertise and research. Professors may lead lectures, assign readings and projects and grade student work.
National average salary: $84,558 per year
Primary duties: An environmental engineer designs and develops methods, tools and processes to manage environmental issues such as waste disposal and air and water pollution. They create technology, such as water filters or wind turbines. They collect data regarding the issue they're addressing, determine the project requirements and monitor the production of the technology.
Read more: Learn About Being an Environmental Engineer
17. Civil engineer
National average salary: $85,414 per year
Primary duties: A civil engineer works with cities and governments to design structures necessary for civilization, such as airports, waterways, roads and bridges. They often research the environment they're working in and determine the best way to conduct their work in that environment, which may include assessing the soil quality and reviewing any environmental hazards to ensure it offers a safe work environment.
Read more: Learn About Being a Civil Engineer
National average salary: $89,773 per year
Primary duties: Fire protection engineers study architecture and building design to understand better what causes fires and how to prevent them. They inspect buildings, review designs, identify fire hazards and strategize to prevent environmental damage from fires.
National average salary: $91,592 per year
Primary duties: Sustainability engineers design and create durable structures, products and systems that have a low environmental impact. They may strategize to reduce waste and damage during a project by recommending recycled materials, minimizing energy usage and analyzing emissions. Sustainability engineers perform feasibility studies, collect project data and liaise with clients about project progress.
National average salary: $92,184 per year
Primary duties: Chemical engineers use knowledge from different environmental sciences, including biology and chemistry, to improve the use and production of drugs, food and consumer goods that require a complex chemical compound. Their duties include developing production equipment and testing new methods and processes.
21. Mining engineer
National average salary: $93,489 per year
Primary duties: Mining engineers work to determine the best way to design and develop mines for mineral extraction. They often specialize in a certain type of metal. Their duties involve analyzing mining risks, planning extractions, testing mining equipment and reviewing mining practices for health and safety.
National average salary: $97,463 per year
Primary duties: Aerospace engineers design, create and maintain vehicles and machines that travel through the air. They use their knowledge and expertise to create powerful machines that are energy efficient and environmentally safe. These engineers perform research, create designs based on client requirements and test equipment extensively.
Read more: Learn About Being an Aerospace Engineer
National average salary: $97,859 per year
Primary duties: An environmental health and safety (EHS) manager works with companies or organizations to ensure they follow all the proper environmental laws and safety regulations. They perform audits of workplaces and educate managers about how they can limit employees' exposure to any harmful environmental risks.
National average salary: $102,871 per year
Primary duties: A geophysicist uses gravity and seismic methods to study the Earth. Their duties include running special tests and generating surveillance reports. Geophysicists focus their research and specialize in analyzing and predicting certain functions of the Earth, including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
National average salary: $107,177 per year
Primary duties: Biostatisticians work with medical data to discover patterns or solutions regarding public health or medical problems. They can work in medical and non-medical environments, but both types of biostatisticians often use the same basic skill set in their work. This includes closely analyzing data from living things using scientific methods and procedures.
Why pursue an environmental studies degree?
There are several reasons why you might want to pursue a degree in environmental studies:
Care for the environment: Some specialists use their environmental studies knowledge to better care for the Earth and its ecosystems. For example, scientists with an environmental studies degree might work on policies for environmental regulations or help companies produce goods and services with fewer negative environmental impacts.
Scientific research: Another great use for an environmental studies degree is to pursue scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of the Earth. Some graduates might study butterflies and their migration patterns to better determine how humans can protect the species, while other scientists might study human impacts on the global climate.
Desire to teach: If you're interested in teaching others about the environment, you can pursue a degree in environmental studies. Teaching others about how the Earth functions can also create substantial positive changes in human-environmental relationships.
Frequently asked questions
What's the career outlook like for environmental jobs?
Exact career outlook figures can vary depending on the specific job you're pursuing, but the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs for environmental scientists and specialists to grow 5% between 2021 and 2031. The BLS also predicts jobs for political scientists could grow 6% by 2031, and jobs for environmental engineering technologists and technicians could grow 4% by 2031.
What's the difference between environmental studies and environmental science?
Environmental studies take a more theoretical approach to environmental issues, such as sustainability, climate justice and natural resource preservation, and engage a variety of disciplines. Environmental science graduates generally have more experience experimenting, testing samples and applying qualitative and quantitative analysis to scientific questions. Environmental studies programs discuss the social, cultural and political implications of environmental issues and consider methods for addressing these issues. People with a formal education in either environmental studies or environmental science may have the qualifications to work a wide variety of jobs in the industry, though.
How do you find a job in environmental studies?
Here are some tips for starting your career in environmental studies:
Use your network. After earning a degree in environmental studies, you could leverage the connections you made during school to widen your possibilities. Connecting with professors, peers and graduates of your school working in the industry could lead to an opportunity.
Consider the federal government. Government agencies employ many candidates to address pressing environmental issues at the state or federal level. Consider looking for open positions at USAjobs.gov.
Volunteer with a nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits pursue issues like climate change policy or sustainable consumption, so volunteering with one that interests you might be a way to forge a connection with the organization. This can be a way to demonstrate your passion and capabilities when a full-time position becomes available.
Is environmental studies a good career?
Environmental studies is an in-demand field, as many businesses, political groups and academic institutions continue pursuing sustainability and researching the effects of human behavior on the environment. It can also be rewarding, as environmental issues can affect human health and safety. Many people find environmental studies to be a field that engages their passions while also serving the common good.
Explore more articles
- 15 of the Highest-Paid Office Jobs in the US
- Post Office Job Requirements
- How To Get Into the Racing Industry (Plus Common Careers)
- Is It Better To Apply for Jobs in Person or Online?
- How To Become a Wildlife Conservationist in 4 Steps
- The Pros and Cons of Being a Therapist (With Tips)
- 24 Jobs with Pensions
- 17 Jobs That Involve Mathematics (Plus Duties and Salaries)
- How To Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student
- How To Become a Private Investigator in Florida in 8 Steps
- 12 Traits of Creative People
- FAQ: How Does Mystery Shopping Work?